The novel “Trullion: Alastor 2262” by Jack Vance was published for the first time in 1973. It’s the first book in the Alastor trilogy.
After a pirate attack on the planet Trullion was foiled by the Whelm, the military force the Alastor Cluster’s ruler, Glinnes Hulden decided to join it. He serves in the Whelm for ten years but eventually gets homesick and takes his leave to return to one of the many islands on his ocean planet that is owned by his family.
Glinnes Hulden’s homecoming is definitely not the best, as his relatives greet him coldly. Worse still, his brother Shira has gone missing, making him the owner of the family’s islands. However, he discovers that his twin brother Glay sold an island even if he wasn’t entitled to do that. Trying to regain possession of the island will be difficult and Glinnes tries to make some money by joining a hussade team.
The Alastor trilogy is set in a large star cluster in which there are three thousand inhabited planets united by a single authority, the ruler called Connatic. The planet Trullion, cataloged as Alastor 2262, is almost completely covered by an ocean and the human inhabitants live on the many islets scattered around the planetary equator. It’s part of the fictional universe known generically as the Gaean Reach but the various series and individual novels set within it are completely autonomous.
The introduction of “Trullion: Alastor 2262” offers basic information about the planet Trullion and its society. Written by other authors it could be boring but Jack Vance uses it to introduce the reader to some peculiar customs, one of the typical elements of this author.
The plot is a planetary adventure set on various islands of Trullion in which Glinnes Hulden tries to collect the money he needs to redeem the family island sold by his brother Glay without being entitled to do that. What may seem like a rather mundane story of a troubled family, soon yields surprises and twists that even include a pirate attack.
A central element in the novel is hussade, a very popular sport in the Alastor Cluster. The colorful aim of the game is to reach the opponents’ sheirl, a girl who is not just a mascot because reaching her means being able to undress her. It’s especially in this part that we see that “Trullion: Alastor 2262” is a novel published at a time when science fiction was a genre read by boys and young men.
Various mysteries, linked to the disappearance of Shira and the plans of Lute Casagave, the island’s buyer, are investigated by Glinnes Hulden between hussade games. The real adventure, which gives strength to the novel, is linked to these investigations, which lead Glinnes to have to deal with very dangerous people.
There’s even too much in a novel that’s fairly short by today’s standards with human and non-human populations inhabiting the planet Trullion and being involved in one way or another in a complex plot. For this reason, the pace is fast with many events in which Glinnes Hulden gets involved, not always of his will.
I wouldn’t include “Trullion: Alastor 2262” among Jack Vance’s masterpieces, still, this novel shows this author’s inventiveness and humor. It aged worse than other of his works but I think that overall, it’s still fun to read.